The transcriptional regulator RovS controls the attachment of Streptococcus agalactiae to human epithelial cells and the expression of virulence genes.

Research paper by Ulrike M UM Samen, Bernhard J BJ Eikmanns, Dieter J DJ Reinscheid

Indexed on: 22 Sep '06Published on: 22 Sep '06Published in: Infection and immunity


Streptococcus agalactiae is part of the normal flora of the human gastrointestinal tract and also the leading cause of bacterial infections in human newborns and immunocompromised adults. The colonization and infection of different regions within the human host require a regulatory network in S. agalactiae that senses environmental stimuli and controls the formation of specific virulence factors. In the present study, we characterized an Rgg-like transcriptional regulator, designated RovS (regulator of virulence in Streptococcus agalactiae). Deletion of the rovS gene in the genome of S. agalactiae resulted in strain 6313 DeltarovS, which exhibited an increased attachment to immobilized fibrinogen and a significant increase in adherence to the eukaryotic lung epithelial cell line A549. Quantification of expression levels of known and putative S. agalactiae virulence genes by real-time PCR revealed that RovS influences the expression of fbsA, gbs0230, sodA, rogB, and the cyl operon. The altered gene expression in mutant 6313 DeltarovS was restored by plasmid-mediated expression of rovS, confirming the RovS deficiency as the cause for the observed changes in virulence gene expression in S. agalactiae. DNA electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed that RovS specifically binds to the promoter regions of fbsA, gbs0230, sodA, and the cyl operon, indicating that RovS directly regulates their expression. Deletion and mutation studies in the promoter region of fbsA, encoding the main fibrinogen receptor in S. agalactiae, identified a RovS DNA motif. Similar motifs were also found in the promoter regions of gbs0230, sodA, and the cyl operon, and alignments allowed us to propose a consensus sequence for the DNA-binding site of RovS.